Saturday, August 8, 2015

As we approach the start of a new semester, businesses big and small are gearing up to hit campuses all over the country. Brand-conscious college students are a key demographic for fashion retailers, publishers, food and beverage makers and stationery manufacturers looking to score new business - business that could last them for years to come.

Marketing to students is a multibillion dollar business, so it makes perfect sense for companies to go directly to college campuses in order to punt their wares. Not only is brand loyalty often established at college-age, it’s quick to spread around campus, where a high concentration of impressionable students can be found in one location. 

In addition to the stalls and stands setting up on college grounds, online and mobile marketing will play a key role in reaching students in 2015. Promotions range from sponsored events and giveaways to mobile coupons and social media competitions. To help you focus on reaching more students this semester, or building a marketing strategy from scratch, try some of the following tactics:

Be Authentic

Your average 18 or 19 year old is pretty savvy when it comes to advertising. They’ve seen it all before, they know when they’re being aggressively ‘marketed at’ - and they don’t like it. To be noticed, you have to move quickly and communicate clearly the value you provide. Don’t pitch your product or service, describe it in a straightforward fashion.

…and Specific

Make sure your offer is relevant to the student lifestyle. Get young people involved in devising your marketing strategy, or even generating content in return for exclusive discounts and previews. There’s nothing more embarrassing and off-putting to young consumers than a commercial that tries and fails to speak their language, so draft in their peers to help you create an authentic student voice.

Cross-Channel Marketing

Remember, much of their sharing of ideas and content takes place through social media channels, so the key to reaching students is to create a 360-degree connection: engage them online, in-person and with freebies (because, really, nothing says ‘we’re the real deal’ than free stuff). The greater the impression you can make on an individual student, the greater the chances of them sharing with their friends.

Listen to Feedback

Social media is not a one-way street. The true power of social networks like Facebook lies in the ability to start dialogue, so pay close attention to what people are saying about your brand and take it on board for your next campaign.

Go for the Shares

Lots of likes and followers are one thing, but getting students to share your content across their networks is the way to go viral. Creating organically shareable content will have a far greater impact than buying targeted mobile display ads, which are often ignored. Instead of throwing money at expensive ad space, invest it in a video that student will want to share of their own volition.